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Literature Film Quarterly (1985) - Double, Double: Toil and Trouble




Otto Rank tells us: the most prominent symptom of the forms which the double takes is a powerful consciousness of guilt which forces the hero no longer to accept the responsibility for certain actions of his ego, but to place it upon another ego, a double, ... the detached personification of instincts and desires, ... once felt to be unacceptable, but which can be satisfied without responsibility in this indirect way. By using the double, authors can externalize and resolve moral tensions, as well as create worlds full of dramatic conflict. The world of the double, being the realm of the subconscious, possesses many characteristics of the dream world, or its perverted mirror image, the nightmare world of the modem thriller, where the normal rules of reason no longer apply, ... a spectrum of realities having the common characteristic of strangeness and varying from the comic through the absurd, the sinister, and the daemonic, to the explicitly sane.